Life of Jesus and how Jesus became the Son of God

According to the Bible, Jesus must have known He was the Son of God practically from the moment of His birth. (Or His parents kept that a secret from Him for all or most of His life). He then waits 30 years and only after spending 40 days in the desert, overcoming a psychological struggle with the temptations of the Devil does he start proselytising. Taking all these factors in consideration I can not but come to the conclusion Jesus did not consider Himself Son of God until after his meditative retreat. We may then logically assume Jesus had through a process of self-denial and meditation become the equivalent of a ‘Bodhisattva’.

Dear Neill,
Jesus, just like every other human, was not born with full knowledge of His spiritual existence. The material of the body is made to protect us from these memories so we can concentrate on our lives here, not their. Only through enlightenment, is one able of escape the material confinement and access the spiritual memories and essence.

Mary was told who Jesus was but the angels, but she could not fathom it. She knew He was special, relative to her other children, but didn’t dare to think He was actually the King of Heaven incarnate.

Jesus aways had the angels around Him and they taught Him doing His times in the desert or in the garden, the He was alone. But they waited quite long before they revealed to Him who He really was. In the meantime he worked for Joseph as an artisan and carpenter, building houses and furniture for a living. It was right before His baptism that God appeared to Him and showed Him everything, including the time alone that the two of them lived alone in Heaven, in the beginning (John 1:1).

Ref: Jesus – New Insights into His Life and Mission

30 was the minimum age in Israel for priests to begin their ministry, so in that sense it isn’t particularly surprising that Jesus would wait until that time to initiate his own ministry.

More significantly, though: are you asking the question of when and how Jesus objectively recognized himself to be the actual, only, and unique son of God, or when and how he subjectively decided to “become” a son of God?

Essentially, one either is, or is not, the second person of the trinity. And at some point of his human upbringing Jesus grasped and recognized this reality.

But being the second person of the eternal trinity is not exactly something one can “become.” You either are or you aren’t.


Why would you think this? And how would his immature human brain even be capable of this knowledge before he had even acquired human language? What in the Bible implies such a thing?

There is quite a bit of NT scholarship on this issue. See for example, How God Became Jesus (2014), which is a response to Ehrman.


Another recommendation I´d give ist The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre.
However to answer Neills points, I´d cite the famous Yale scholar Nils Dahl, who made the argument, that Jesus must have fueled the hope to bring the kingdom of God already in his ministry. If he wasn´t, then his claims would have likely just been regarded it as a psychological issue and his followership would have fallen apart. There were several claims of the own messiahship, however obviously something about Jesus´ ministry was different.
Another point I want to make, Neill seems to approach the topic from the skeptics perspective. Nothing wrong with that per se, however what he poses is pretty much only a problem if we assume inerrancy, but I don´t grant that any human.
Also I think @Korvexius has more to say about it than I do.

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41 Every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the Feast.
43 When those days were over and they were returning home, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but His parents were unaware He had stayed.

49 “Why were you looking for Me?” He asked. “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”

I think Luke is saying here that at 12 Jesus was already aware of who He really was, and the implication is that He always knew.

@Daniel_Fisher, I didn’t know 30 was the minimum age in Israel for priests to begin their ministry. Good point.

Within a Biblical timescale of thousands of years 30 years is like a watch in the night.

From numbers 4, for instance…

“Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their clans and their fathers’ houses, from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who can come on duty, to do the work in the tent of meeting.”

There seems to be a serious misconception (no pun intended) here. Many people seem to think that Jesus was the Son of God because He was born of a Virgin meaning that God was His physical Father. This is Not true.

We know that because we know that Jesus was fully God and fully Human, nor half God and half human. If Jesus were partly God and partly human, He would hav4e been neither God nor human, but a tertium quid, Latin for a third thing.

Another issue is the fact that we Gentiles are obsessed with Jesus being God, while the Jews wanted to know if He were the Messiah. Jesus did not ask people to believe that He was the Son of God, but that He was the Son of David, or the long waited Messiah, the Anointed One, the One Chosen by YHWH to save God’s People.

The turning point of His ministry was the time when He asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter said , “You are the Christ,” Latin for Messiah, according to Mark and Luke, to which Matthew added, “Son of the Living God.” We quote Matthew’s Gospel and not the other two.

Christ is a title meaning the Chosen One of God, not the last name of Jesus or the Son of God. But there is a connection. Psalm 2

Psalm 2:7-8 (NIV2011)
God’s Promise to His Anointed
7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.
8 Ask Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession.

Here it says that the Messiah is God’s Son. We know that the earliest followers of Jesus knew this because they recited it Acts 4:23-31.

Jesus was the Messiah from birth and the Son of God, but in a sense one could not say this until His mission was accomplished.

Why do we dis-believe the Jews and later the Muslims who consider(ed) Jesus, not as the (only) embodiment of God (God incarnate), but a Messiah (a ‘Bodhisattva)? The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as God the Son, identical in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father. So in that respect anyone of us can be ‘God the Son or Daughter’.

Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet who tried to return the Jews to Islam and failed. They say that He did not die on the Cross. Neither He nor Muhamad is Allah in any form. Only the Quran as the embodiment of the Word of Allah. That is why the Quran is so special to Muslims. That is why slavery and Holy War cannot be outlawed, because they are accepted in the Quran, the Word of Allah.

Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah. They believe that Messiah has yet to come. In the NT sometimes it seems as if some Jews talk as if they believe that Jesus was the incarnation of Elijah or another prophet, but this is only figurative. Jews, Christians, and Muslims do not believe in reincarnation.

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We are made in the image of God; not in the essence of God.

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An image is a copy. If we copy God’s image it would be a being of bright light without physical substance. A robot is the image of mankind if it has a body similiar to ours. A robot is not yet a biological copy, but neither is the biological substance of mankind the copy of God we are talking about. God does not have a physical body, just like a robot does not have a biological body. We are currently less the image of God than a humanoid robot would be a copy of our image.

Neill…Interesting subject. By “according to the Bible,” you are presuming that Jesus “knew” something and then…after “taking into consideration” the brief details about the majority of Jesus’ life (i.e., not much said about first 30+ years, a whole lot about Jesus’ last few days), you have decided that Jesus became a Bodhisattva, or similar.

I do not know what exactly a Bohisattva is defined as. But “great teacher” or “holy man” would be another sort of thing. There is the account of the 12-year-old Jesus staying behind after Passover which you need to consider. When His parents finally find Him lingering in the Temple of Jerusalem and talking shop with the priests, He says “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I must be in My Father’s house?” (see Luke 2:49 etc) Calling God "my Father’ was an equivalent of claiming to be God. So this was not simply some mouthy pre-adolescent who did not want to leave the Big City after Passover. He possibly was considered too young at the time to have been charged with claiming deity, as He eventually was as an adult. But it would not have been likely that those who heard Him at age 12 did not know what He meant.

So what does that incident tell us about Jesus’ self-knowledge? It says little but does suggest that Jesus was more self-aware than the meager details of His early life (including all the episodes surrounding His birth and etc) generally let on… Many think Jesus had a growing awareness of who He was. But even that is a field rife for speculation. However He developed — there is still the cocky remark at age 12. Judaism in that era especially was expecting that a Jewish male would one day be considered both Messiah and God. I doubt they were looking for a Bohisattva though.

Why would Jesus not know in the womb who he was? Luke 1:15 He is never to drink wine or other liquor, and he will be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:41: When Elisheva heard Miryam’s greeting, the baby in her womb stirred. Elisheva was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh 42 and spoke up in a loud voice,

“How blessed are you among women!
And how blessed is the child in your womb!

43 “But who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy! 45 Indeed you are blessed, because you have trusted that the promise Adonai has made to you will be fulfilled.”

This verse is not about Jesus, but John the Baptizer. This Lucan text is not about Jesus as the Son of God, but Jesus as the Messiah, Who is not the Son of God according to Jewish expectations. Jesus was not accepted by His disciples as God during His life on earth and even after the Resurrection.

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We are not specifically told a lot of interesting things about Jesus. We are told that communication between God and man can take place in the womb. I do not think what people believe now or then will change any facts. We just do not have the facts.

But we do have the facts and it is important that we understand Who Jesus knew He was and how He carried out His mission.

We need to step out of our Greek point of view and accept the Jewish Biblical point of view so can understand Reality from God’s eyes and not our human eyes. That is not easy, but it is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus, not followers of Aristotle.

To be honest I suspect that the Lucan birth narrative is reading ideas into history that were not there or not in that form. Yes, we know that Jesus is the Messiah, but how that took place we do not know.

We do know that the biological father of Jesus was not YHWH, and I fear that the more we speculate that Jesus was God in the womb, the more tempting that false3 view becomes. What we must say is not that Jesus was God, but that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, which is the meaning of the Name, Jesus (Yeshua,) given to Him by YHWH.

From God’s view Jesus is God in the womb, there never is a was. Can we ever over think about God? The more thought I put into God, the more the result seems that Jesus would fit the description of the human that told Abraham that he would be the Messiah. In humanity’s terms, the only thing that would be false is turning God into a physical object wether that is a concept dealing with physical reality concocted by physical humans or any tangible object humans feel the need to call God. However Jesus is the one and only manifestation in the physical of God. That includes the Word as well. Jesus and the Word being one and the same. Perhaps not applying Greek philosophy makes this more understandable. There is a very distinct difference in what is physical and what is “of God” though, despite the western thought process that declares such a distinction that eastern thought seems to hold as a singularity.

My opinion is that was part of the curse placed on Adam and all of his descendants, not because some ancient Greeks just pointed out the obvious.

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